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Drive By :: REI Flashback Daypack

Drive By :: REI Flashback Daypack

by , February 5, 2014


Like many people in the Pacific Northwestern United States, I find myself often wondering where the demarcation line lies that divides fall (with her golden leaves) and winter, and where those leaves rot and my allergies pick up. Stiff winds cut through downtown buildings, aiming at the tiny place between your scarf and jacket – chilling you to the bone. The truth is that in the Northwest we live in a perpetual transitional state of fall/winter, until spring comes and the rain isn’t as cold as it used to be. We then transition into the spring/summer state of non-committal weather, then a week or two later, we jump immediately into the summer/fall before repeating the process.

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During this time, we all cast off into the forests to witness their transition with a toddy or spiked cocoa in a thermos, an extra layer and a snack tucked in our packs.

The grim-looking trees have shivered off their last leaves, which now obscure the trail. Given the sheer volume of dead plant life on the route, you search in vain for “clues” as to where it went, but the dog keeps the scent. He is looking over his shoulder to see if you are still coming. You wonder as you follow him why you are so trusting in a furry friend who a minute ago was eating a rotten branch off a standing tree. He also just found something dead to roll in, is covered in mud, and wants to lick your face.

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Along for the wander is a simple rucksack. The 18 liter (1098 ci) REI Flashback. The Flashback pays homage to the bygone (and golden) era of bag design from the late 1960s through the 1980s. Bags then didn’t do “tricks”, the patterning was simple and design lines were non-existent. Bags from this time were created with simple functionality in mind. Does this bag have a hydration pocket/sleeve/hose routing? Nope, it doesn’t need it. Does it have padded shoulder straps? Nope, it doesn’t need them either.

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Truth be told, more than just “heritage bags” need the treatment the Flashback received. If we learn anything as consumers from the vintage bag craze, it is that less often is more. The tricked out ten-zipper pack you have today might be nice, but in 10 years it’ll be in the bin.

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Tidbits on this pack I thought were nice include the drawstring toggle. It was larger than normal, reminiscent of early sprung cordlocks. The leather bottom and lash tab were made from REAL leather, heavyweight and durable. The shoulder straps fit perfectly, and could easily have been ruined by adding padding or some other nonsense.

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Before I go on a tangent, I’ll wrap it up. The REI “Flashback” truly is just that. A blast from the past designed and created with earnest homage to the packs of yore. A simple bag from and for simple times.

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